Cannabis chat: Charlottetown MP holds town hall on legalization

There are still a lot of unanswered questions for the people of P.E.I. around the legalisation of marijuana, even after MP Sean Casey held a town hall on the issue Wednesday night.

Legalization is set for July 1, 2018

Legal recreational marijuana is coming to Canada in 2018. (Eric Engman/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner/Associated Press)

There are still a lot of unanswered questions for the people of P.E.I. around the legalization of marijuana, even after MP Sean Casey held a town hall on the issue Wednesday night.

It would seem rather ludicrous … to have people going to a liquor store to get medical marijuana— Jim Grant

Casey went through where in the process the bill is, and a general overview of what it meant. Then he and a panel of experts answered questions from the crowd. 

There were questions around distribution, many from entrepreneurs wondering what the process would be for them to get in on the selling of recreational cannabis. Others had concerns about the possibility of selling it in government liquor stores. 

"It would seem rather ludicrous in my opinion to have people going to a liquor store to get medical marijuana or advice from a clerk," said Jim Grant, a veteran and medical marijuana user. 

"If there's going to be a licence distributor it should be these type of people who are the experts: that when you come in and sit down they'll tell you what you need."

Distribution rules come from province

But the questions around distribution couldn't be answered by Sean Casey, because distribution rules will come from the province.

However, there were no representatives from the province present to address those questions and that disappointed many in the crowd.

The expert panel included MP Sean Casey, Nick Flood, a medical outreach educator, Dennis MacKenzie of Marijuana for Trauma and Dr. David Sabapathy, deputy chief public health officer for P.E.I. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"The fact that there are no provincial representatives is a shame and I think that that should be heard loud and clear," said Mikey Wasnidge.

"There's a great great opportunity from an economic point of view and an industry point of view and there's a lot of questions that are being asked and that want to be asked but there's no one here to answer them," Wasnidge added. 

P.E.I. MLAs and officials from the Department of Justice were invited but they all declined, Casey said.

The Department of Health did send Dr. David Sabapathy, the deputy chief public health officer, to sit on the panel. 

"We heard from one elected official that felt that because I didn't hold a town hall on the tax changes that they weren't going to attend this one," Casey added.

But he also said he respects the province's right to have their own way of addressing the public on the issue. The province put out an online survey in August. That survey is now closed. 

Not much sympathy if provinces not ready, says Casey

Another question that was raised was whether the provinces be ready for the July 1 deadline. Many provinces have been complaining that it's just not possible. 

But Casey said, it would be silly for them not to be ready. 

"I would say that if the deadline was October we'd have provinces leading up to October saying that we didn't have enough time. This should have been a surprise to nobody. It was the subject of an election campaign two years ago. It's something that has been in the form of legislation now for several months," he said 

"I honestly don't have a lot of sympathy for the premiers who had indicated that we don't have enough time."

Provinces that aren't ready will pay an economic price, said Casey, because those that are will get the benefits.

Casey went on to explain that if a province didn't meet the deadline, there will still be an option for consumers to buy online from a federally-licensed supplier. 

There were other concerns around usage in the  workplace, the legal driving limit and the separation of medicinal and recreational products, all subjects that will have to be ironed out before that July 1 deadline.


  • A previous version of this story said no provincial government representatives were present. In fact P.E.I.'s deputy chief public health officer participated on the panel.
    Oct 12, 2017 3:26 PM AT

About the Author

Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a video journalist in P.E.I. She has also worked for CBC N.L.